Business Briefs for January 22, 2007

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jan. 22, 2007 12:00 am  

• Little Rock National Airport parking meters will be enforced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. The meters directly in front of the terminal and at the south end of the baggage claim wing have been exempted from a city ordinance that permits free parking at nights as well as on weekends and holidays, since that's often the airport's busiest times.
• Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City, the second largest operator in the Fayetteville Shale Play, has been named to Forbes' Platinum 400 list of America's Best Big Companies and was further identified as the best managed company in the Oil & Gas Operations category. Chesapeake ranked 34th on the list based on its 40 percent five-year total return.
• The Arkansas Army National Guard's 233rd Regional Training Institute broke ground last week on the first phase of $55 million project — construction of the school's new $5.5 million General Instruction Building at Camp Joseph T. Robinson. The 233rd Regional Training Institute is a national level training facility that provides infantry, artillery, and leadership training to National Guard soldiers from all states and territories.
• The Arkansas Army National Guard has selected The Benham Cos. to provide architectural and engineering design services for a new $30 million, 118,000-SF Combined Support Maintenance Shop at Camp Joseph T. Robinson. The design services will be provided by Benham's offices in Lowell and Little Rock.
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Arkansas cotton farmers produced a record 2.56 million bales in 2006, up 16.3 percent from the 2.2 million bales of 2005. Soybean production was 107.5 million bushels, up by 5.3 percent. Rice production was down 11.8 percent to 95.9 million hundredweight in 2006 from a nine-year low of 1.4 million acres harvested. By contrast, more than 3 million acres of soybeans were harvested.
• Tyson Foods Inc. ranks No. 1 in new product development in the food service industry for the fourth straight year, according to a nationwide study by Cognitio, a research company, Kraft was second in the new product scorecard, General Mills finished third and Nestlé was fourth.
• Southern Arkansas University Tech's Aviation Program at Camden has been given a Boeing 727-100 airplane from Federal Express Corp. of Memphis. The formal "hand-over" ceremony took place on Jan. 17 at the Camden Regional Airport.
• John Godfrey, president of Godfrey Forest Products LLC of Providence, R.I., said construction of a $200 million oriented strand board mill in Columbia County could begin in about a year. The plant is expected to employ about 150 workers. Godfrey says the plant could be operating by early 2010.
• The Alumacraft Boat Co. plant at Arkadelphia is expanding by 16,000 SF and plans to add up to 15 workers. Last year, the Arkadelphia plant produced more than 11,000 aluminum boats.
• Entergy Arkansas must refund customers, according to the Arkansas Public Service Commission, which said the company failed to keep adequate coal stockpiles at its White Bluff and Independence power plants, causing unreasonably high electric bills. The commission ordered the company to work with commission staff to arrive at refund amounts for its 673,000 customers.
• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is opening a record 44 new stores and expanding 22 others into Supercenters this month. Including expansions, the company in January will open 63 Supercenters, five Wal-Mart discount stores and two Neighborhood Markets.
• The Bank of Fayetteville has donated $100,000 to help fund Washington Regional Medical Center's expansion project currently under way at the healthcare system's North Hills campus. The hospital also received a $4 million gift from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation to complete the Pat Walker Center for Seniors.
• Woody's Bar-B-Q Sauce Co. of Waldenburg, owned by William and Cecelia Wood, received several awards at the National BBQ Festival. Woody's Mild sauce took 1st place in the vinegar mild category. Its Mild Hickory sauce took 2nd place. Woody's Hot Hickory sauce took the top spot in the Vinegar Spice category and its Hot Bar-B-Q sauce won the 2nd place award.
• Justin Minkel of Springdale, Arkansas' 2007 Teacher of the Year, was named as one of four finalists for the 57th National Teacher of the Year Award, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. Minkel teaches second grade at Harvey Jones Elementary School in Springdale.



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